02 January 2019

Riding Out The Old Year And Into The New

This is the way the year ends
Not with a bang but a bike ride.

All right, so that's not how T.S. Eliot ended The Hollow Men. But, the other day I ended 2018 with one of the best rides I've taken in Florida.

The wind pushed against me for the entire 30 miles (50 kilometers) from my parents' house to the Daytona Beach boardwalk.   But I didn't mind, even though I was riding a rusty baloon-tire beach bomber:  It was a great excuse to bomb onto the beach and into the water.

This is something you definitely wouldn't do in New York on New Year's Eve (unless, perhaps, you are a member of the Polar Bear Club.)  I mean, the temperature doesn't reach 82F (28C) on Coney Island Beach on the last day of the year--though it could happen some year, given the effects of climate change.  On the other hand, my hometown probably won't have the sky or sunshine I experienced on my ride.  (I got sunburned even though I applied sunscreen twice.)  

I also wouldn't see anything like this

or this

 both of which I encountered on the way back, along Route A1A, between Ormond Beach and Gamble Rogers State Park.  Nor would I have seen this

which greeted me in Beverly Beach, near the aptly-named Painters Hill.

Because I took the route through Beverly Beach and Painters Hill, the ride back was longer.  But it was also easier, because the wind I pushed against was pushing at my back.  So, in all, I rode about 65 miles (105 kilometers) for my last trip of the year.

The following day (yesterday), I started 2019 by riding along A1A in the opposite direction, to St. Augustine. The temperature reached the previous day's levels, and the sun shone brightly, but only a breeze blew at my back on the way up, and into my face on the way back.  In all, I covered about the same distance--just over 100 kilometers--I did to end the previous day, and year.

The ride took me over a bridge that spans Matanzas Inlet.  Now, if you know more Spanish than I, you know "matanzas" means "slaughters". 

Indeed, people were slaughtered there:  specifically, French Huguenots who had the temerity to build a refuge for themselves at Fort Caroline, in what is now Jacksonville.  The problem was that they didn't fortify or defend their garrison very well.  So, when the Spanish attacked, it fell easily.  At the same time, a French flotilla sailed from Fort Caroline with the purpose of attacking St. Augustine.  It, however, was blown off course by a storm.  When some French survivors were found, Pedro Menendez de Aviles, the founder of St. Augustine, ordered their execution.

Of course, I'm sure nobody on the beach was thinking about that. I could hardly blame them:  The clear skies, warm air and calm sea wouldn't bring slaughter or execution to very many people's minds.  And, I admit, for me, the serene littoral vista made for a nearly perfect ride to start a new year.

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